Cowen and Travis Appointed as ACSF Associate Directors

Cowen and Travis will join the David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF) as associate directors on July 1..


By Sheri Englund via the Atkinson Center Blog, 6/14/13

Edwin "Todd" Cowen, professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Alex Travis, associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, will join the David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF) as associate directors on July 1. Cowen will replace Jefferson Tester, Croll Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems, as associate director of energy; Travis will succeed Drew Harvell, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, as associate director of environment.

As associate director for energy, Cowen will be the main point of contact between the Atkinson Center and faculty engaged in energy research. His research program in environmental fluid mechanics, environmental transport processes, water wave induced flows, lake hydrodynamics, and quantitative imaging techniques requires collaboration with colleagues from multiple disciplines. One of his newer interests is wind and hydrokinetic energy. Cowen is designing and testing small-scale wind turbines for urban use, a project funded by an ACSF Academic Venture Fund award and developing a water-powered water pump in collaboration with Pliant Energy Systems, a project funded by an ACSF Rapid Response Fund award. Cowen is also the director of the DeFrees Hydraulics Laboratory.

Travis’s research takes two approaches to wildlife conservation. His lab develops techniques of assisted reproduction that can help preserve the genetic diversity of endangered species in captive breeding programs. Recently, Travis made news as the first in the Western Hemisphere to successfully reproduce a dog from a frozen embryo. In work that earned him a Pioneer Award from the NIH, Travis extended his studies of sperm to nanobiotechnology for producing biological energy and medical diagnostics. Travis also uses his training as a veterinarian to preserve wildlife in the field, working on the interface of biodiversity conservation and human poverty and hunger. Collaborating with faculty from all over campus inspired Travis to found the Cornell Center for Wildlife Conservation, launched in 2008 with the help of the Atkinson Center.

“Todd and Alex have been involved with ACSF from our early days, including leading our faculty advisory board,” ACSF director Frank DiSalvo remarked. “They bring a wealth of experience, enthusiasm, and ideas to the associate director positions. I am delighted that they will be part of our leadership team.”

The Atkinson Center’s three associate directors lead ACSF’s tightly linked programs in energy, environment, and economic development. Travis and Cowen will partner with Wendy Wolford, associate professor of development sociology, who joined the Atkinson Center last summer as the associate director for economic development, the third pillar of the “three Es.”

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